Back on February 23, 2012, Ryan Braun saw his 50-game suspension for testing positive for synthetic testosterone overturned.
Suddenly, he was acquitted and able to start the 2012 season on time.
The key word there is "acquitted." An acquittal is not proof of innocence. In fact, it's proof of nothing more than insufficient evidence to convict, nothing more.
This is a hard fact that looms over the head of Braun this season. He's done his proclamations of innocence on numerous occasions, yet those words are falling on deaf ears.
Braun is having himself a fine season. That much is true. The problem is due to the discourse of events occurring after the conclusion of the 2011 season, his numbers are seemingly insignificant to most baseball fans outside of Milwaukee.
Sounds a lot like when Barry Bonds was chasing the home run record, does it not?
This season, Braun is tied for 11th in the National League with 128 hits. However, 32 of those hits are an NL best in home runs. His 77 runs scored are fifth in the league while his 81 RBI are tied for second with Matt Holliday, only two behind the league leader, Carlos Beltran's 83.
In addition to his 32 dingers, Braun has added 21 doubles and two triples for a total of 55 extra-base hits.
That said, he leads the NL in isolated power (ISO) numbers as well, with a .285 average. This is a category he leads by no small margin: .19 points, which is just about double the largest gap (.10 points) through the rest of the ISO leader list.
Surprisingly, his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) has him ranked 23rd with a .323 average, especially considering his .301 AVG has him tied for 10th with David Freese.
Additionally, Braun's .380 OBP ranks him ninth, however, his .586 SLG is third in the NL, second if you exclude a DL-stricken Joey Votto. His .966 OPS is second to only Andrew McCutchen.
Lastly, his 5.7 WAR is third among NL stars, behind David Wright's 6.0 and McCutchen's 6.4 respectively.
Clearly, Braun is a top-tier player in all of baseball, let alone the National League, yet writers and fans alike look at him quite differently this season.
In the course of just a few short months, he has gone from being a fan favorite to a player fans no longer trust.
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